Fury over ‘unnecessary’ historic Naseby Battlefield signs prompts review

Highways England have promised to review a decision to scrap brown signs pointing out one of the country’s most important battlefields.

Saturday, 2nd March 2019, 6:00 am
The monument to the Battle of Naseby

Historic Naseby, on the border between Kettering and Daventry districts, is the location of the key 1645 English civil war battle that saw Cromwell’s Parliamentarians effectively destroy Royalist forces.

The shattering defeat led to the King’s army being eliminated. Within a year the war was over and Parliament’s permanent role in the government of the country was cemented. Naseby is also accepted by many to be the birthplace of the British army.

The Naseby Battlefield Project, made up of local residents, historians and civic dignitaries, has spent years improving the site and fundraising to build a visitor centre there to mark its importance.

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The Royalists were defeated at Naseby during the first English Civil War

But members were alarmed on Thursday when they received a letter from Highways England saying that the government-run company planned to remove the ‘unnecessary’ Naseby 1645 brown tourist signs flanking major roads by the site including the A14. Their letter went on to say that they hoped the group would understand and they apologised for any inconvenience.

Campaigners, who had fought for years to ensure that Naseby was recognised for its important role in British democracy, said that the decision was ridiculous.

One of those campaigners is the chair of the Northampton Battlefields Society, historian and author Mike Ingram, who runs tours around the site. He said: “The letter didn’t say too much.

”We think that because the A14 has been upgraded recently it may have pushed it up into a different level which means that there’s a need to have less distractions at the roadside.

The Naseby signs were threatened with removal

”I could almost understand this if the signs weren’t already there - but they are. It would actually cost them money to take them down!

”We have gone back to them to ask them what’s going on.

”It’s one of the most important battlefields in England.”

After posting about the issue on social media, the group received huge support from local people and vowed to fight Highways England’s decision. They said they would be contacting MPs and the battlefield patron Earl Spencer to enlist their help.

Mike added: “We are working so hard to promote Northamptonshire and the heritage of the county, and then you get this.

”The key thing we are trying to do is increase visitor numbers and removing the signs is not going to help with that.”

Last night (Friday, March 1), after being contacted by the Northants Telegraph, Highways England agreed that they would undertake a review.

Their statement said: “We want people to get to tourist and leisure destinations safely and by the best route, but we also have to ensure we don’t clutter our network with signs, that we prioritise sites with the greatest traffic management or safety needs, and that we minimise any impact on the environment.

“So we regularly review brown tourist signs on our network, and, if circumstances have changed, we may need to remove the signs when we have other planned work in the area.

“In relation to Naseby we will review our decision because we do appreciate the significance of the site.”